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Renaissance of Northern Europe

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Greer Collins

on 13 January 2017

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Transcript of Renaissance of Northern Europe

Renaissance in Northern Europe
Enduring Understandings and Essential Knowledge
Modern European art emerges from an interaction with cultures on a global scale. Prior studies highlighted a more narrow geographic or chronological approach.
Western Europe and the American colonies are at the center of Renaissance and Baroque studies.
Europe and the Americas are brought into closer alignment with this new course of study. One is not considered more important than the other.
Europeans brought goods and culture to the Western hemisphere with their trade and conquest.
Europeans began to collect and organize knowledge from their various expansions around the globe. European influence is on the rise at home and abroad.

There is an interest in returning to classical ideals in the 15th century, with a greater emphasis on formal education and artistic training.
There is greater exploration of the formal elements of painting, like perspective, composition and color.
Artistic training is enhanced by the birth of academies.
The display of artwork often meant a glorification of the patron.

The Reformation and Counter-Reformation caused a rift in Christian art of Western Europe.
In Northern Europe there was an emphasis on non-religious subjects, like portraits, genre paintings and still lifes
. In Southern Europe there was an emphasis on religious subjects with much more active and dynamic compositions.
Historical Background
In Northern Europe, prosperous mercantile interests and capitalism in Flanders set the stage for the flourishing of the arts.
Wealthy merchant patronage becomes important.

The Reformation breaks from the Catholic church causing political and religious turmoil. Germany, Scandinavia and the Netherlands become

The bible is translated into German by Martin Luther in 1534, complete with woodcuts, hand painting and decorative initials from the workshop of
Lucas Cranach

What did the artists do??
Many chose a side, but if they did not choose one side or the other, they walked the middle ground - not too Protestant, not too Catholic.

Buying and selling art becomes important and artists utilize the new printmaking technology to make multiples that can be sold at an affordable price.

Northern Renaissance: 1400-1600
The Renaissance of Northern Europe centers on the wealthy merchant class of Flanders. Cities prospered and competed with one another. The Reformation brings about significant changes in Christian worship, doctrine and artistic style. The Reformation brought about an iconoclastic movement which attacked paintings and sculptures of holy figures and stripped churches bare. Spear headed by the Calvinists.
Renaissance: 1400- late 1600s
Reformation: 1517-1648
Counter-Reformation: 1545-1648
Left: Last Judgement, the "Law" side
Moses holds the Ten Commandments
Ten Commandments represent the Old Law, Catholicism
Law of Moses not enough without the Gospel to get you to Heaven
Skeleton and demon force a man into Hell
Christ sits in judgement
Law, death and damnation are all highlighted

Right: the "Gospel" or "Grace" side
Christ is show crucified and also resurrected
John the Baptist shows a naked man the miracle
The nude man is standing passively, stripped to his soul, submitting to God's mercy
One of a series of six paintings illustrating seasonal changes. Grew out of a tradition of books called the Books of Hours.
Limbourg Brothers,
Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry
Ideas and rebellion
The Annunciation Triptych, or the Merode Altarpiece
Robert Campin
oil on wood

Left panel: donors, middle-class people kneeling before the holy scene; wife added later, possibly because of donor's marriage

Center panel: Annunciation taking place in an everyday Flemish interior

Right panel: Joseph in his carpentry workshop

Meticulously painted; intricate details
Small size, for portability
Personal use
Oddities: very steep ground line, figures are too large for furniture

Symbolism in the tripych

The book, extinguished candle, lilies on table, copper basin in corner niche, towels, fire screen and bench all symbolize the Mary's purity and divine mission.
Joseph (R) constructs two mouse traps, symbolizing Christ as bait for the Devil
Ax, saw and rod are mentioned in Isaiah 10:15.
Closed garden (L) symbolizes Mary's purity, the flowers relate to her virtues, especially humility
The donors are featured kneeling in the garden, making this a donor portrait
Inghlebrecht means "angel bringer" connecting the donor's name with the Annunciation
Scrynmakers means "cabinet or shrine-makers" connecting the other donor to the workshop scene at right
Couples in art
The human figure
Garden of Earthly Delights
, Bosch
Northern Renaissance Painting
Movable type
invented - books produced on mass scale, available to anyone, Gutenburg Bible, 1454
- woodcut, engraving, etching - mass produced, inexpensive, fast - Graphic Arts
Oil paint
- rich color, longer working time, sharp details
Painted altarpieces
- elaborate cupboards, large or small, for personal and public use

influence from International Gothic style
Ground lines tilt up dramatically
Modern fashions
Fondness for nature

Gutenburg Bible
(mechanical) vs.
Golden Haggadah (hand painted)
The Annunciation Triptych (Merode Altarpiece)
- Campin
Arnolfini Portrait
- van Eyck
Fall of Man (Adam and Eve)
- Durer
Isenheim Altarpiece
- Grunewald
Garden of Earthly Delights
- Bosch
Allegory of Law and Grace
- Cranach the Elder
Return of the Hunters
- Bruegel
Types of prints
S-curve and International Gothic style
Gutenburg Bible
Golden Haggadah
Watch this:
Watch this:
Watch this:
Read this:
(there is a short video at the bottom that shows how the altarpiece opens up)
Law and Grace
Lucas Cranach the Elder
c. 1530
Law and Grace
Lucas Cranach the Elder
c. 1529
oil on wood
Read this:
Watch this:

Watch this:
Arnolfini Portrait
Jan van Eyck
oil on wood

Many theories surround the work:
Could be the wedding of Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife - traditional theory
Could be a memorial to his dead wife
May represent a betrothal - a promise to marry
May show Arnolfini giving business and legal priviliges to his wife during an absence

Symbolism in the Arnolfini Portrait:
Clogs indicate holy ground
Dog indicates fidelity
Finial is a statue of Saint Margaret, patron saint of childbirth
Whisk broom indicates domestic care
Oranges may indicate wealth, fertility, passage of time
Single candle of the chandelier symbolizes the all-seeing eye of God or a custom of of the first night of a marriage
Small medallions around mirror show scenes of the passion of Christ and God's promise of salvation
Wife is near bed, man stands near open window
Two men are seen in the mirror, one may be the artist
Van Eyck's signature features prominently above the mirror
Mirror may reflect God's blessing
Adam and Eve, or Fall of Man
Albrecht Durer

Heavily influenced by classical sculpture, contrapposto:
Adam like The Apollo Belvedere
Eve like the Medici Venus
Ideal image of humans before the fall of man

Four humors are represented:
Cat: choleric or angry
Rabbit: sanguine or energetic
Elk: melancholic or sad
Ox: phlegmatic or lethargic

Other symbolism
Mouse represents Satan
Parrot is cleverness

Highly detailed, narrative

Isenheim Altarpiece
Matthias Grunewald
Oil on panel

Large-scale altarpiece, opens show three different views
Placed in a monastery hospital where people were treated for "Saint Anthony's Fire", or ergotism - a disease caused by eating the fungus which grows on rye flour
Ergotism causes convulsions and gangrene
St. Anthony is depicted on the 1st and 3rd views

First view:
crucifixtion, dark background
dead, decomposing flesh
arms nearly torn from sockets
lashed and whipped body, agony and pain shown - symbolizing agony of ergotism
Mary is shown dressed as nuns in hospital
as panels open, Christ's arm separates from body as if amputated, a treatment for ergotism

Second view:
Marian symbols: enclosed garden, closed gate, rosebush, rosary
Christ rises from the dead on right, rags change to robes, shows wounds which do not harm anymore - earthly diseases will vanish in the next life

Third view:
St. Anthony at center, flanked by fathers of the church
views from St. Anthony's life - left, his visit to St. Paul in Thebes desert; right, his temptation by the devil
Return of the Hunters (Hunters in the Snow)
Pieter Bruegel
oil on wood

One of a series of paintings representing the months of the year and activities that correspond to the months - a practice derived from Late Medieval, Northern European books called Books of Hours (see left)
Alpine, winter landscape - not native to the artists' area, possibly inspired by his trip south through the Alps
Figures are common, peasant types
The hunt shows little success, hardness of winter - this contrasts with the playful winter scenes below
High horizon line, typical of Northern European style
The Subtle nature of Northern European Painting
Paintings often contain deep, symbolic, spiritual and moral meanings within seemingly normal, everyday scenes
Netherlandish Proverbs
Pieter Bruegel
A Netherlandish village is the setting for more than 100 proverbs acted out by nobility, peasants and clerics
Butcher's Stall
Pieter Aertsen
At first glance, this appears to be a genre scene of a meat stall, but in the background Joseph leads Mary and the Christ Child, crossed fish, pretzels and wine represent "spiritual food", and there are oyster and mussel shells scattered on the ground -
The Money-Changer and His Wife
Quentin Massys
This depiction of a secular financial transaction also comments on values - the wife is paying more attention to the money than her prayer book
The French Ambassadors
Hans Holbein the Younger
Holbein depicts two humanist ambassadors with a collection of objects that reflect their worldliness and learning, however the object in the foreground is an anamorphic skull, when viewed from the side it appears - this was a stark reminder of death
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